Yesterday Dave Snowden published on his blog what is currently just an intriguing snippet - the idea of a Grameen group for learning (look forward to him expanding on the concept):
The basic idea is that you get your bursary as a progressive series of payments only if you form a learning group with other people in your community and you all take responsibility for each other group members completion of whatever education programme you take.
Today, Dave followed up with an insight into what "horizontal knowledge transfer" and innovation might mean in a development context:
You find a brilliant idea, such as Grameen Bank in one country. The various agencies then pick that idea up and attempt to transfer it to another. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. What you really want is for people in another country with similar issues, to pick up the idea and transform it into their own context...Allowing horizontal, fragmented transfer of ideas between people with real needs. The next stage on from that is [to] bring those people together, problem-solver to problem-solver without the mediation of people from a different world...Distributing cognition and decision making, rather than mediating it through third parties is of critical importance for the future.
Arguably, much of what currently falls under the "knowledge management for development" label is the realm of "mediators from a different world" - donor agencies or NGOs trying to foster knowledge exchange, but not necessarily building "distributed cognition". Is it time for us to change focus, or step out of the way?